Local windpower project delayed

Last week, the proposed wind energy farm to be built 20 miles west of Winslow near the Meteor Crater exit was delayed and was scheduled to be built in March 2007.

"Everything is lined up and we are ready to go forward with this project. Now we are just waiting for APS to issue a request for a power purchase from the Arizona Corporation Commission," said Amy LeGere, a spokeswoman for Sunshine Wind Energy.

On March 16, the ACC changed the state's renewable energy standard and tariff rules to make alternative energies sources more common in Arizona. Up until now, the ACC only required that 1.25 percent of electricity production in Arizona come from renewable sources. After this new ACC ruling, 15 percent of Arizona's power must come from renewable sources by 2025. Additionally, any "Affected Utility" described as a public service corporation serving a retail electric load in Arizona ­ like APS, will have to incorporate renewable energy into 30 percent of their distributed production according to the new rules. These rules also stipulate that energy companies may buy, sell and trade renewable energy credits with other energy companies.

Eligible sources of renewable energy for these credits are: solar, biogas, biomass, hydropower, wind, fuel cell, geothermal, hybrid wind/solar and landfill gas generators.

Foresight Wind, based out of San Francisco, set up their offices in Flagstaff, a city 15 miles further from the project than Winslow. The company cites many benefits that this project will bring to the area like $75 million in capital investments which will go to Coconino County; over 100 initial construction jobs with 2 ­ 4 long term maintenance positions; land lease revenues of $3.6 million over 25 years to be paid to the Hopi Tribe and local ranch owners; educational research, and a way to preserve open lands as an alternative to subdividing ranch lands.

"On average, Sunshine Wind will produce an amount of electricity equal to about two thirds of Flagstaff's residential needs, or about 14,000 homes," LeGere said.

Two years of data collection in the area anticipate that the project will be able to produce electricity about 70 percent of the time since wind is not a constant and that area is only designated as a class 3 wind corridor. That is an average amount, but not many areas in Arizona have a higher wind rating that are so conveniently near the power infrastructure.

The electricity generated by Sunshine Wind Park will enter the transmission grid between Flagstaff and Winslow and will primarily flow to these towns and other northern Arizona power users.

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